You have probably all heard the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. Habit is the reason you keep doing the same thing over and over again. Your actions are governed by your own unique set of habits. These patterns of behavior, both good and bad, are interrupted only with difficulty, due to the habitual nature of human beings. As people are presented with new ideas and techniques they are often frustrated by the difficulty associated with changing their long established habits.

I have assessed the sales habits and patterns of behavior of thousands of sales people in the past several years. Very few were successful in changing their behavior until they first made a mental commitment to change. When change becomes difficult sales people revert back to their old patterns of behavior unless they have mentally committed to the change. The mental commitment will keep them on task when the physical reality of change promotes reverting back to the old habit.

Replacing old bad habits with good new ones in difficult, but it is not impossible. The key to changing behavior is understanding and then applying the correct techniques. There are two main reasons people don’t change their behavior. First, the motivation to change is not compelling enough to endure the difficulty. Second, a mental commitment to change has not been made which commitment gives strength to stay the course during the difficult transition from one behavior to the next.

The cliché, “practice makes perfect,” applies to changing your long established ways of doing things. However, we need to better understand “practice”. Perfect practice makes perfect and the only place you can practice perfectly is in your mind. You need to see yourself using the new techniques or behavior mentally before you will ever commit to applying the behavior physically. If you can’t see yourself doing it, you will never stay with it long enough to change your behavior. The following story illustrates the perplexity associated with changing habits.

The renowned French Naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre, in an experiment with a group of processionary caterpillars was able to entice the group on to the rim of a very large flower pot. Processionary caterpillars move through pine trees in a long procession feeding on the needles. They derive their name from their habit of following a lead caterpillar, each with its eyes half closed and its head fitted snugly against the rear end of the preceding caterpillar.

In his experiment, Fabre succeeded in getting the lead caterpillar to connect up with the last one, creating a complete circle that moved around the pot in a never-ending procession. He thought that after a few circles of the pot, the caterpillars would discover their predicament or tire of their endless progression and move off in another direction. But they never varied their movements.

Through sheer force of habit, the caterpillars kept moving relentlessly around the pot at about the same pace for a period of seven days. They would have continued even longer if they had not stopped from sheer exhaustion and hunger. As part of the experiment, food had been placed close by in sight of the group, but because it was out of the path of the circle, they continued in their procession to what could have been their ultimate destruction.

In their procession around the pot, they were blindly following their instincts, habits, past experience, tradition, custom, precedent – the way they had always had done things. In reality, they got nowhere.

If sales people will embrace change and mentally commit to doing those activities that have been proven successful by thousands of top performers, they will find the success they are looking for. Habits are your constant companion. They can lead you to success or failure in your sales activities. Habits are completely at your command and will automatically perform most of your tasks. When your activities are governed by correct habits, tasks are completed quickly and correctly. Once you embrace a habit it will work for you automatically doing what you want done. Your positive habits are your greatest servant, while your negative behaviors will become your greatest obstacles. When you ultimately become the master of your positive behaviors you will find sales success beyond your wildest expectations. If you let your negative habits rule your actions, sales success will elude you forever.

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Copyright: The Business Performance Group, Inc.
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